Insomnia and sleep problems hit young adults the most, health survey finds

More than one in four adults aged 18 to 24 suffer from insomnia every night; this is the highest rate of insomnia of any age group in the United States, according to a recent survey by the Norwegian health and wellness publication Helsestart.

The company conducted a Google survey of 2,000 American adults aged 18 and older, asking respondents how often they had trouble falling asleep, as well as their gender and age.

Half of those surveyed said they suffered from insomnia at least once a month, while almost a quarter said they had trouble falling asleep each night.

People often use the term “insomnia” in different ways, said Dr. Ronald Chervin, professor of neurology and division chief at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Centers, who was not affiliated with the survey.

“When a lot of people talk about insomnia, they’re talking about the symptom; the symptom means having trouble falling asleep, having trouble waking up during the night, having trouble going back to sleep if you wake up, or waking up early in the morning,” he told USA TODAY.

These experiences can be considered symptoms of insomnia, but there are also many disorders associated with sleep, including chronic insomnia and acute insomnia disorder.

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Martin Hareid, co-founder of Helsestart, said that when the company started looking into insomnia for its survey, it saw many “outdated” publications that also focused on people already diagnosed with insomnia. insomnia and receiving treatment.

He said one of the organization’s goals was to get a realistic picture of the population amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time the group has conducted a survey like this.

The team surveyed 2,000 adults, categorized respondents by age group, and grouped respondents into four regions of the United States: Midwest, Northeast, South, and West.

Check out the results below.

Main conclusions:

  • 50% of American adults report experiencing insomnia once a month or more.
  • 43% of adults in the United States say they do not suffer from insomnia.
  • 36% of American adults report having trouble falling asleep at least once a week.
  • 22% of adults in the United States say they have trouble falling asleep each night.

Results by age group:

  • 29% of 18-24 year olds report suffering from insomnia every night.
  • 17% of adults over 65 report experiencing insomnia every night, making them the age group least likely to experience nighttime insomnia, according to the study.
  • Adults over 65 are the most likely to experience insomnia on an infrequent basis, with 9% saying they experience it once a month or less.

Results by region:

  • The Midwest is the region least likely to experience insomnia each night, with 19% reporting difficulty falling asleep at night; that’s 3% below the US average.
  • Additionally, 49% of Midwesterners said they never had trouble sleeping, the highest proportion of all four regions.
  • 59% of adults in the western part of the United States experience insomnia at one time or another, the highest percentage of the four regions.
  • 24% of adults in the South said they had trouble falling asleep each night, the highest percentage of all four regions.
  • 23% of people in the North East said they had trouble falling asleep every night.

Hareid thinks one of the most interesting findings is that young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 struggle the most with nighttime insomnia.

Existing research indicates that older generations are most affected by insomnia, he said, not young adults.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Establish a bedtime routine

Erica Jansen is an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and has researched factors of insomnia and other sleep disorders in young adults.

“We see that (insomnia) is higher than in other populations,” Jansen told USA TODAY. “In general, the period of young adulthood is a time of transition in life and of much uncertainty. We know that mental health problems are strongly linked to insomnia, and periods of uncertainty are also strongly linked. to insomnia.”

She said it’s best for people to establish good bedtime routines and make sure bedtimes and wake-up times are the same every day.

She also said that if people haven’t fallen asleep within 20-30 minutes, she encourages people to get up and do something like read, meditate or something very restful; but they need to make sure they do these activities outside of bed so they don’t associate anxiety and insomnia with their bed.

It’s “a good picture” of sleep habits but not peer-reviewed

While Hareid said it “paints a good picture of the current situation in the United States,” it’s also important to know that the data hasn’t been peer-reviewed.

Dr. Chervin of the University of Michigan also pointed out that the researchers did not include confidence intervals – the ranges of margins of error normally seen with samples.

A spokesperson for the project’s marketing company said Google is balancing the demographics of the survey sample to match the demographics of the target population, or in this case, people 18 and older in the states. -United.

To obtain demographic data to use as a marker, Google used a combination of government data and internal Google data sources. They also applied weighting to better match the demographics of the online target population.

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She’s from Norfolk, Va. – 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at

USA Today

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